HAIGH: It speaks to a universal concern that all of us have, which is the two poles of security and freedom. That’s what Patrick’s dealing with. He’s torn between complete freedom and complete security, and I think we all can understand those dual desires.
Where does Looking fit into the context of other shows that have featured gay characters?
LANNAN: We don’t really know. We’re doing what we think feels real and authentic to us, that builds on our own influences, Andrew’s and mine. Everything from '70s cinema, '90s indie cinema, to television shows we loved like Tales of the City. Only time will tell where it fits in.
HAIGH: Our ambition is not to tell the story about all gay people, which is impossible to do. The gay community is full of all different types of people. It never was our intention to be the ultimate gay show about all gay people. We just want to tell the stories of these characters and their lives.
Do you feel a sense of pressure, or a burden to get this right?
HAIGH: I think “burden” is a good way to put it. We do feel like there’s a burden, and then the trailer comes out, and everyone comments on it, saying, “That’s not my life.” It was hysterical looking at some of the comments. Some people decided it was a show about cock-hungry sluts, and others would say that it’s all white people. Everyone has a judgment. But we can’t represent everybody—it’s impossible.
So in many respects, we have to ignore that. But I also understand the desire, the need, for representation on the screen. My hope is that if this show does well, it will offer the opportunity for other people to make other shows about different types of gay people.
Your show features “30-somethings”—Patrick is 29 and Dom is 39—but you also include older characters. I think it’s interesting that you offer this multi-generational perspective of the gay experience in San Francisco.
HAIGH: What I find interesting about a lot of groups of gay friends is that they are often multi-generational. What brings a lot of them together in the initial stage is their sexuality, and they can develop friendships that way. But these are guys who met at college—it’s not a bunch of grade-school friends. When you’re in your 20s, you think that by the time you get to 30 everything is going to be fine, but of course, once you get to 30, and 40, and 50, and 60, there are always struggles. You’re not suddenly defined as a person by the age 30. It’s ongoing. Dom’s character is almost 40 but he still hasn’t made up his mind what he wants with his life.
LANNAN: Enough of the world has changed so quickly in the last 10 years that somebody who’s Dom’s age, 39, has, in many ways, different experiences from someone like Patrick, who’s 29. They relate, and they’re very close, but they’re also so different. Dom would’ve grown up with the height of the fear and anxiety about the AIDS crisis. To Patrick, that’s a little more of something he’s heard about—not something he lived with. And I think the Internet changed things for people younger than myself (and I’m 36). There was no Internet till I was out of college, and the kind of gay communication style is confusing. But for people five years younger than me, it’s the norm.